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Why Do Good People Stay in Bad Relationships?

Shout out to JM in Arizona who emailed and asked this question. Let's jump into the answer! As a Coach, a close friend, or even a family member, It can be puzzling and concerning to witness good people staying in relationships that are seemingly unhealthy or even harmful. However, there are various reasons why individuals may find themselves reluctant to leave a bad relationship and allow me to say this out the gate; "it doesn't have o always make sense to you or to others.".

First, let's all take a moment to adjust our own attitudes and fix our faces. This topic space can find people feeling judged or condemned for their decision to stay. That is not what this post is being written for. In my twenty-plus years as a coach, I can say with confidence that I have never told anyone to stay or to go. What I have done is lay out what I see/hear, and give them the tools to mitigate & elevate but if best efforts are not working and the energy is just bad or toxic, I will tell them that they are at a place of decision. Then, I respect what "THEY" choose.

In this article, I will dive into and explore some common underlying factors that explain why good people may choose to stay in relationships that are not serving their well-being. Understanding these reasons can shed light on the complexities of human behavior and help individuals navigate their own relationship challenges with compassion and self-awareness.

  1. Fear of Loneliness: One significant reason good people may stay in bad relationships is the fear of being alone. They may worry about the difficulties of starting over, feeling lonely, or not finding someone else who will love them. This fear can overshadow their own well-being and keep them trapped in an unhealthy dynamic.

  2. Emotional Attachment: People become emotionally attached to their partners, even in toxic relationships. They may hold onto the hope that things will change or that their partner will revert to the person they fell in love with. The emotional investment and attachment can make it challenging to let go, despite recognizing the relationship's negative aspects.

  3. Low Self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may struggle to believe they deserve better. They may fear that they won't find anyone else who will love or accept them. This lack of self-worth can keep them locked in a bad relationship, as they may believe it is the best they can hope for.

  4. Cultural or Religious Beliefs: Cultural or religious beliefs can strongly influence a person's decision to stay in a bad relationship. They may feel pressured to maintain the relationship due to societal expectations, religious teachings, or the fear of judgment from their community.

  5. Financial Dependence: Financial dependency on a partner can make it challenging to leave a bad relationship. The fear of financial instability or the inability to support themselves and potentially their children may keep individuals trapped in an unhealthy dynamic.

  6. Emotional Manipulation: In some cases, one partner may employ emotional manipulation tactics to control and manipulate the other person. The victim may be made to feel guilty, responsible for the relationship's problems, or may have their self-esteem consistently undermined. This manipulation can create a sense of dependency and make it difficult to break free.

  7. Hope for Change: Good people may genuinely believe that their partner will change or that the relationship can improve. They may hold onto the hope that counseling, therapy, or personal growth will lead to positive transformation. This hope can keep them invested in the relationship, even when the signs suggest otherwise.

  8. Familiarity and Comfort: The fear of the unknown and the comfort of familiarity can be powerful motivators to stay in a bad relationship. Even if the relationship is unhealthy, individuals may find it difficult to imagine a life without their partner or the routines and dynamics they have become accustomed to.

  9. Emotional Investment: Investing time, effort, and emotions in a relationship can make it challenging to walk away. Good people may feel a sense of loss and grief at the thought of leaving, especially if they have invested significant time and energy into the relationship.

  10. External Pressures: External factors such as children, shared assets, or the opinions of friends and family can influence an individual's decision to stay in a bad relationship. They may prioritize stability, the well-being of their children, or fear the judgment and consequences of leaving.

These are a few of the reasons that I as a coach have concluded that good people stay in a bad relationship. This is not the "end-all-be-list" for any person's reasons including your own if this applies. Leaving a relationship should always be looked upon with thought, a dwelling of facts, moving with intention, and self-reflection BUT minus the bitter and unhealed advice from those around you who would lead you to believe they are really looking out for you.

You see misery needs others to befriend so others can feel good about their own misery. You (already zoned out from your own relationship) should do what is best for you, regardless of what this is. The caveat is, you will have to stand by whatever decision you make to stay or to go but make no mistake about it; It is 100% your decision to make and to live with.

Understanding why good people stay in bad relationships requires empathy and recognizing the complexities of human behavior. It is essential to approach these situations with compassion and provide support and resources for individuals who may be struggling. Encouraging self-esteem, autonomy, and personal growth can empower individuals to make choices that prioritize their well-being and ultimately lead to healthier interactions in life.

Do you have a question for me, a comment on this article, or a topic that you would like to see me address on this blog? Let me know at:


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